HEQ speaks with Medicinal Cannabis Europe about the European medical cannabis landscape.
The European medical cannabis space is evolving, with more and more EU Member States taking an increasingly favourable view of the clinical benefits of cannabis and its derivatives. Medicinal Cannabis Europe was launched in 2018, with the remit of ensuring fair, equal access to medical cannabis products for patients and establishing a harmonised policy framework at the EU level.
What role does Medicinal Cannabis Europe play in the European cannabis landscape? What are your key goals?
SL: We are a multi-stakeholder non-profit association based in Brussels; we represent the whole medicinal cannabis value chain, all the way from patient communities through to companies involved in the production of cannabis-based medicines. We actively engage with policymakers in Brussels, both with members of the European Parliament and the regulators in the European Commission. Our objectives are to make safe, regulated cannabis-based medicinal cannabis products available to European citizens in all Member States; to attract European funding for research and innovation into medicinal cannabis applications and products; and we also want to have an educational role, so that we can remove the stigma attached to medicinal cannabis. We want to educate the public, and also policymakers, about the therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis and the clear differentiation between the old, stigmatised recreational use of cannabis and its use as a medicine.
In late 2020, within the space of a few weeks, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that CBD is not a narcotic and the UN’s Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to reclassify cannabis from Schedule IV, where it was placed alongside drugs such as heroin, into a less harmful category. Are these positive steps an indication of a potential turnaround for cannabis policy?
SL: In general terms, it is a very positive development: to some extent, it opens the door for European regulators to address the issue of cannabis as a medical product, rather than as a narcotic. However, it will take time for national governments around Europe to adjust their own regulatory picture as a reaction to these changes.
Technology’s constant innovation has forced many industries to start adapting to mechanical and automated processes to take advantage of these brand new economies of scale. In the last decade or so, this technological integration has been driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), the next step in enhancing the precision, automation, and productivity of industrial processes. The cannabis industry is no exception. In an environment where figures like temperature and THC concentration can make or break an entire batch of product, AI has become an integral part of industrial cannabis cultivation.
But what does AI offer cannabis cultivation compared to other industries? Below is a breakdown of how and why artificial intelligence is being utilized by modern cannabis producers.
What Are The Benefits of AI as a Manufacturing Tool?
While artificial intelligence may have started off as a concept and a small-scale demonstration of high-end computers, its recent developments have made it one of the largest growing industries in tech. Not only that, but the benefits extracted from AI are so vast, it has entered almost every industry imaginable, from waste management to retail. But the industry where AI has seen the most opportunity is, arguably, manufacturing.
In the manufacturing industry, AI can be used to identify, manage, and monitor almost every mechanical task in the production journey. Due to its processing capabilities, AI can be used to evaluate, for example, every packaged product that reaches the final stage of inspection. Artificial intelligence, in this case, can be used to judge the quality of packaging and to identify any mistakes. It can also then record the number of packages that satisfy each tier of quality. Information this valuable can be used to reduce the number of errors and improve the cost efficiency of one’s production. Minimizing cost, as any business leader knows, means maximizing revenue.
Where AI is most valuable is when it can automate simple but burdensome tasks on a particularly large scale. The volume of data that AI can process at a single time is what makes it extremely valuable in more industrial operations like cannabis cultivation.
The USA’s National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has formalised its support for increasing hemp maximum THC levels.
The 2018 Farm Bill defined hemp as the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of the plant with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent by dry weight. Above that and the cannabis is considered marijuana and therefore illegal.
The 2018 Farm Bill was an important step forward for the USA’s hemp industry, but is proving to be more restrictive compared to some countries where the maximum allowable THC limit is 1%. The 0.3 percent level greatly increases the risk of “hot crops” that subsequently have to be destroyed and can result in the farmer facing criminal proceedings.
According to a policy amendment submission presented at the 2021 NASDA Winter Policy Conference; in the US, with currently available genetics, up to 40% of test results show samples exceed the 0.3% total THC concentration.
“This 0.3% delta-9 THC level 14 is an arbitrary standard that was never meant to be used as a legal measure for THC concentration in hemp, and is not consistent with the level of concern placed on the potential for diversion of crops with a THC concentration of 1% into an illicit market,” said Secretary, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Anson B. Tebbetts in the submission
Topical CBD (cannabidiol) products are becoming increasingly popular – but recent testing indicates some who use them may not be getting what they paid for.
CBD topicals are being used for a number of applications including general cosmetics, moisturising, treating skin irritations and to relieve muscle and joint pain. Research indicates cannabidiol may be effective in treating or managing a number of skin problems.
As an active ingredient it’s important that what’s in the product is reflected by what’s on the label.
Leafreport engaged Canalysis Laboratories to test dozens of CBD topicals including creams, balms, serums and toners, and found 31 of the 40 products contained 12% to 99% cannabidiol versus what was on the label either way (less or more). Just 9 of the products had CBD levels within 10% of the label and 11 were off 30% or more from what the label noted. The majority of the products (31 or 77.5%) contained more CBD than advertised.
While more CBD may sound like a good thing, it raises the question – if a company can’t get CBD levels pretty right, what else is happening with the product? Additionally, more CBD than indicated can make it difficult for a user to determine what they actually need.
A study by researchers at the University of Minnesota show the genetic makeup of high-CBD hemp plants is largely marijuana.
There are two types of cannabis plants. One that creates marijuana, which has psychoactive properties and the other creates hemp, which can be used to make industrial products. The difference between the two plants is the level of the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which creates the "high" sensation. Under federal regulations, CBD can only be 0.3% THC.
In the study, recently published in New Phytologist, researchers that breeding high-THC plants with hemp-type plants would create a new plant with high levels of CBD instead.
According to the study, when the high-CBD plants mature, hemp farmers could be at risk of having their crops above the legal THC limit.
The cannabis plant is extremely complex and nuanced.
With a dizzying amount of active ingredients — including over 200 cannabinoids — it’s hard to imagine the majority of the legal market is comprised of products containing THC, CBD, or a combination of those two alone.
But so-called “lesser-known cannabinoids” are beginning to emerge as research and development on the plant itself grows along with the industry.
Cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and THC-A have been making their way into retail in a variety of forms, and interest in the potential of cannabis beyond the current status quo is rising fast.
Could these lesser-known cannabinoids be the future of the marijuana marketplace?
According to the January 2021 Hemp Benchmarks report, there is an increasing demand for delta-8 THC, which is not derived from hemp plant material but synthesized from extracted CBD. This is helping drive sales of crude CBD oil, CBD Isolate, and some wholesale CBD products. As the popularity of delta-8 THC increases, Hemp Benchmarks observed a consistent decline in prices. Despite the fact that trading volumes of delta-8 THC remain a small proportion of those for CBD products, it is the fastest-growing product in the hemp sector as of the January report. A Tennessee processor told Hemp Benchmarks that they have seen as many as about 20% of their CBD customers shift to purchasing delta-8 THC.
This growth is notable given the many unresolved questions regarding delta-8’s legality. The compound is a psychoactive cannabinoid, which means it can get users “high”, giving rise to numerous legality issues. Newly proposed regulations from the Drug Enforcement Agency would classify delta-8 THC as a Schedule I controlled substance, which would make it illegal at the federal level. For this reason, laboratories and manufacturers are keeping a restrained and realistic eye out for delta-8’s true market potential. The uncertainty extends to the lack of defined standards around compliance and purity of products containing delta-8 THC. The Hemp Benchmarks report quotes an email from Stephen Crowley, Compliance Specialist and Hemp Processing Technician with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, who wrote that one of his concerns is “what else might be in these products other than delta-8 THC.” This includes a number of chemical impurities that can be generated during the isomerization process.
If the proposed DEA regulations go into effect, delta-8 THC synthesized from CBD would be illegal and its popularity among manufacturers would hit a major roadblock. Until regulations are finalized, The Hemp Benchmark report predicts that some processors might entertain the idea of synthesizing delta-8 THC from their surplus CBD and selling it for significantly higher prices in order to recoup losses from declining CBD and CBG extract prices.
The consumer market for delta-8 may correlate more strongly with the delta-9 THC demographic as they are both psychoactive, which may limit the delta-8’s appeal for the broader CBD consumer base. As a “novel cannabinoid”, delta-8 THC education and promotion will be necessary to ensure that it does not see the same fate as CBG, which has not generated sufficient interest to purge the excess inventory of what was supposed to be the cannabis industry’s newest rising star. From February to August 2020, the price for CBG Biomass dropped by a staggering 82 percent.
Delta-8 THC is currently a bright light in a stumbling market. Whether or not it can sustain that upward trajectory is dependent on which way the regulatory wind blows once the grey areas in the 2018 Farm Bill are clarified regarding synthetically-derived forms of THC. Until then, this controversial compound is making its way into all manner of products on the hemp market, and earning top dollar for those willing to take a chance on its uncertain future.
Working in cannabis processing is stepping foot into a young, blossoming industry.
No matter how much flower your company goes through in processing, automated batching will ultimately improve net value.
Before choosing automation, a company can struggle with time management and precision when doing every step by hand.
Automated batching cuts time, makes measurements precise every time, reduces product loss, and increases quality.
All these things combined will pay for the automated instrument.
Attitudes to cannabis products in the country are changing. In many states, it is legal to buy marijuana for medical use, and some states also allow recreational use of weed.
It’s not always simple, though. There are so many variations in the laws regarding what you can own, who can legally buy marijuana, and how much you can buy. Plus, variations in the products are causing more confusion. For instance, in many states CBD products are legal because of their low THC content, but other cannabis-derived products are outlawed.
Another complication is the fact that there are different properties within different cannabis products. One of the variations is the type of THC, mainly Delta-9 and Delta-8 THC, which is causing some controversy. The legal stance on cannabis products containing this type of THC are a matter of some debate. In short, for the question ‘Is Delta-8 THC Legal?‘ there is no simple yes or no answer.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Let’s start with the the National Center for Biological Information (NCBI) describes delta-8 THC as follows: “An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.” But what exactly does “analogue of THC” mean?
Just like D9, Delta 8 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a naturally occurring, minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike Delta 9 THC, which is the most abundant compound in the cannabis plant, Delta 8 is only found in trace amounts. Delta 8 is not even produced by the enzymes in cannabis, rather, it is created when Delta 9 THC oxidizes and slowly degrades into Delta 8. Further degradation of Delta 9 would create the cannabinoid CBN (cannabinol).
The main difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC, structurally all comes down to one molecule, which can make a huge difference in the world of chemistry. As the name implies, Delta 8 THC has a molecular bond on the 8th carbon chain, whereas Delta 9 has this bond on the 9th chain.
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the most controversial topics of the instant. The rising popularity of CBD involves the commencement of many research studies about the benefits of this substrate. The information obtained is not only proving the real positive effects of CBD on human health, but also affixes more properties to be investigated and tested. If during the last decade the CBD market was one of the demanded ones today it is the most demanded due to constant increase of consumers and rising interest towards CBD.
Are We Late to Tap Into the Cbd Market?
Here are some reasons why it is not late to tap into this market and make profit of its rising popularity.
Legalization of Cbd
In the USA many states have already legalized CBD, and this process is still open. Medical use of cannabis is now legalized in Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru and Poland. WOW!
Not a band pronostic for the ones who want to enter this market.
Each year, our editors pour through products to find the most innovative, interesting, and helpful tech hitting the shelves. For our year-end 2020 issue of Cannabis & Tech Today, the competition was fierce. We whittled down the list to just 25 items for both the industry pro and the cannasseur. Take a look and share your favorites with us on social media @cannatechtoday.
HempLab Inc. CompleTest. Photo courtesy of HempLab Inc.
HempLab Inc. CompleTest – This is the first in-house hemp/cannabis testing device using fluorescent spectroscopy to deliver lab-quality results in under 20 minutes.
It only requires 100 mg of biomass per test and gives results as low as .1% for both CBD and THC. The seamless interface is simple and easy to operate, removing the human error normally associated with portable testing devices.
The device is available in two models: Desktop and Portable. Call for pricing.
There are many ways to extract CBD from hemp and cannabis plants, which include oil infusion, distillation, liquid solvent extraction, and carbon dioxide extraction.
One of the most sought cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis plants is cannabidiol (CBD) because it’s believed to be a therapeutic compound. You’ve probably heard about CBD oil, and you’re now looking for more information about how it’s made and how it can be beneficial for your health.
Anecdotal evidence shows how remarkable CBD is, but your search shouldn’t stop with this. Instead, learn how CBD is made by determining the scientific process and explanation associated with its manufacturing and consumption by reading further.
CBD Oil Basics
Cannabidiol has gained so much popularity in recent years due to its medicinal benefits. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has even approved a CBD-containing drug to treat patients with epilepsy, who are mostly children. Many CBD users also say that CBD oil is an effective treatment for insomnia, stress, pain, and other signs and symptoms of medical conditions.
Here are the basic things you need to know about the different types of CBD oil:
The modern cannabis space is marked by an ebb and flow of business opportunities within specific market locales; opportunities that arise out of market demand and operational requirements. This notion informs technological innovations in security, including the advent of biometric identification. As the industry continues to mature, business owners in cultivation, processing, and retail environments are entertaining the use of this technology once reserved for such applications as national security.
According to SearchSecurity, biometric identification is defined as any form of biological trait that uniquely identifies a person. For example, fingerprints are the original form of biometric verification, used to identify people in law enforcement and security applications. As biometric identification technology has advanced, it has started to utilize other genetic identifiers, such as retina shapes, iris profiles, DNA sequencing, hand geometry, and voice waves.
Thus far, biometric verification technology has seen innovations and applications in the private sector of the cannabis space. For starters, cannabis tech company American Green has developed a biometric marijuana vending machine. The idea behind American Green’s “ZaZZZ” vending machine is to use biometric technology to verify the age and legal status of a consumer in an unmanned retail exchange.
Due to obvious legal issues with cannabis sales and compliance, the ZaZZZ vending machine is still in its development phase. In a more operational application, safe manufacturers such as Brown Safe have created biometric locking mechanisms on their safes. These safes utilize biometric screening to keep cash and inventory secure from all but a few key employees at the business in question. Brown Safe is actively engaging the cannabis market with this technology.
While these sorts of applications of biometric technology are doubtlessly both innovative and exciting, they are not necessarily applicable across the cannabis industry. This is largely because, in each legal cannabis market in the United States, minimum security standards are set forth in accordance with state mandated compliance programs.
Growers, processors and dispensaries for West Virginia’s long-awaited medical cannabis program have been selected with patients able to register for the program as of Wednesday, but the state still needs a lab partner to test the product.
The office announced the approval Friday of permits for 100 dispensaries in 23 counties. Dispensaries will be able to sell medical cannabis to patients with approved registration cards as soon as products are available, including pills, oils, topical ointments, liquids, dermal patches, tinctures and forms that can be used in vaporizers and nebulizers.
The law excluded dry leaf or whole plant uses.
A list of approved medical cannabis growers was released in October while the approved list of processors was released in November. Signed into law in 2017, the Medical Cannabis Act legalizes marijuana for medical use.
The only thing not in place is a testing lab. State code requires growers and processors to contract with an independent lab for testing of the medical cannabis products. According to a DHHR spokesperson, the Office of Medical Cannabis has yet to grant permit applications.
Too often, we hear, "I have been taking CBD, but I don't feel any effects."
But the problem doesn't lie with CBD. Scientific research tells us that cannabinoids (CBD, THC, CBG, CBN) provide therapeutic relief relating to stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and inflammation with the right dose and when taken correctly. Medical marijuana shows even greater promise for more severe ailments like epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and cancer, to name a few.
The issue stems from CBD's inability to absorb easily into the body; more biotechnological advances are necessary to resolve this. Cannabinoids are oil-based and do not readily absorb into bodies that are 80% water. Additionally, they face destruction from stomach acid and other obstacles when traveling through the digestive system. Thankfully, there is a flurry of activity among chemists and engineers looking for innovative solutions.
Let's start with the different ways cannabinoids get processed in our bodies.
The pros and cons
1. Nasal spray or vaping provides the most rapid results and CBD intake because it enters directly into the bloodstream through thin membranes of the nose and lungs.
The popularity of hemp-derived products such as CBD wax is growing by leaps and bounds. As more countries are decriminalizing the use of CBD and easing regulations regarding its availability in the market, people have started using these products for medical and recreational purposes.
The heightened potency of CBD wax make it a sought-after CBD product. Before we explore a few amazing facts about CBD wax, let’s explore what this hemp-extracted CBD concentrate is all about.
What is CBD wax?
CBD wax is a form of CBD concentrate. It is derived from hemp and is free of psychotic compounds. Those looking to reap the calming benefits of CBD concentrate without feeling sedated can check out CBD wax.
Things you may not know about CBD wax:
Here are six amazing things to know about CBD wax:
1. There are different types of CBD wax
Before using this highly concentrated compound, it is imperative to be aware of the different types of CBD wax available in the stores and other places.
Do cucumbers prefer blue light during flowering?
How is the chemical profile of a cannabis plant influenced by the duration of exposure to infrared light?
Believe it or not, these are the kinds of questions farmers often find themselves asking.
As cannabis research has amped up, cultivators are starting to find the answers they need through scientific research.
Lighting impacts plant quality, harvest size, and flavor profiles, so it makes sense that many indoor growers are creating light strategies for each cultivar.
Cannabis contains more than 100 cannabinoids. However, there are two that are the main and the most popular ones. These two cannabinoids differ in effects and legal status. We talk about THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). Each one produces something different and contributes both to the sensation that marijuana produces and its therapeutic applications. Knowing both compounds allows you to better choose the variety when growing, as well as knowing what to look for according to whether you want something recreational or medicinal. The other components can also influence our body, but they are more difficult to isolate and we know less about their possible effects.
THC vs CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant compound in Cannabis sativa, but that doesn’t make it any less attractive. CBD possesses some unique capabilities that THC cannot match. It is also the main ingredient in CBD oil, an increasingly popular wellness supplement.THC is the main compound in Cannabis sativa. Concentration aside, THC’s fame stems from its psychotropic side effects.
While CBD can influence well-being without major side effects, THC interacts with specific regions of the brain and causes a feeling of euphoria that temporarily affects the way we think and feel. In other words, CBD does not contain any psychoactive component and does not make you high. Many products used to relieve pain or to take care of your skin contain CBD. CBD products, like the purest CBD oil for a healthy lifestyle, are getting more and more popular day by day. In contrast, THC is the principal psychoactive component of the plant.
Benefits of CBD
Pain Relieving Effect
CBD is incorporated in many products that are used daily. Soaps, lotions, oils, and other skincare goods are highly recommended to relieve pain. People that have used these oils or lotions claim that they felt pain alley nearly immediately after the use. It is believed that CBD containing products reduce muscular, chronic pain, alley painful effects of chemotherapy and similar therapies.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression have an impact on our mental health causing also physical disorders. CBD containing oils are recommended as an alternative treatment for both depression and anxiety. Many users of CBD oils claim that drugs prescribed to treat anxiety and depression have many side effects, meanwhile, CBD does not have any known negative effect and acts faster than medical drugs. CBD acts on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
Atherosclerosis, often referred to as a hardening of the arteries, is a major issue across the globe. According to at least one study, roughly half of individuals 40-54 years old have hardened arteries. That is obviously a significant number and includes people that do not smoke and/or are of normal weight.
Hardening of arteries happens when fat and cholesterol (and other substances) build upon the walls of people’s arteries. It’s most common in the heart, but can occur elsewhere. The deposits, commonly referred to as plaques, narrow the artery’s blood flow over time and in some cases completely block the blood flowing through the arteries. Sufferers typically do not experience symptoms until the blood flow starts to be restricted, and common symptoms are chest pain and/or shortness of breath.
Cannabis And Atherosclerosis
Researchers in the United States and Switzerland recently collaborated to explore the relationship between cannabis use and atherosclerosis. According to a peer-reviewed study, tobacco use ‘can damage the function of your heart and the structure and function of your blood vessels’ which increases the chances of developing atherosclerosis.
But what about cannabis?
“This study adds to the growing body of evidence that there might be no association between the average population level of marijuana use and subclinical atherosclerosis,” authors of the new cannabis study concluded. The researchers also found that the cumulative use of tobacco was associated with the hardening of arteries, with an odds ratio of 1.88 compared to 0.87 with cannabis.
A New Zealand project will delve into ways to turn hemp seed waste into high value products for local consumption and export.
Hemp seed is a superfood that is truly deserving of the label – it’s high in protein, vitamins and minerals, fibre and beneficial fatty acids, but low in bad fats.
Hemp seed hulls are the hard outer coating that is removed when producing “hearts” – hulled hemp seed. The shells are removed through pounding, followed by immersion in water where the hemp hearts sink to the bottom and the shells float to the surface and are skimmed off.
In Australia and New Zealand, hulled seeds are the only way hemp seed can be legally sold for food purposes, aside from oil produced by cold-pressing. The by-product of cold-pressing is hemp seed cake or meal. While this is still highly nutritious and high in fibre, it reportedly tastes pretty ordinary.
So, this means there’s a significant amount of waste that currently has next to no market. In terms of hemp seed cake, it is valuable as a stock feed, but many countries don’t allow stock to be fed hemp – including Australia and New Zealand.